Friday, June 28, 2013

Our backyard is full of life

We have a pair of Carolina anoles, in addition to geckos, squirrels and cardinals. Quite delightful!


Dagmara Lizlovs said...

I've got lizards in my garden too. They were in the raised flower bed, but disappeared when I treated one of my roses with ant pellets. My other rose, the John Paul II rose is recovering slowly from heat stress and too much water. It was potted for a while and the potting mix held way too much water and we're having a wet summer. I had some nesting birds in my crepe myrtle, and their all out of the nest now, which got blown out in a storm. Then I had moles one year dig up my garden after I had re-landscaped it. They chewed off the roots of one of my Japanese painted ferns and killed it. What got rid of the moles was my boot pads which were soaked in fox urine. After I got done with deer hunting, I just threw those pads in the garden. The moles got the message.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Our front-yard anoles disappeared after I sprayed against insects around the whole house, including the bushes where they lived.

Heath White said...

Here in North Carolina, we have Carolina anoles too.

Alexander R Pruss said...

We didn't see any of them at our old house, which was only a 10-minute walk from here, so they're not enormously common in the area (unlike geckos, of which I am guessing there are half a dozen visible per side of house at night).

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

Is that gecko or GEICO? Then there is other wildlife. My sister had a garter snake in her garden once. I don't have any snakes though. Snakes aren't bad as long as they are not copperheads which we have plenty of. One of the barns where I kept my thoroughbred, Merlin, had black snakes in it about the same diameter around as beer cans. Kind of creepy but a necessity since they eat copperhead eggs. They also eat mice, and had to be put up with because we had a big time mice problem and the barn manager didn't like cats and didn't want to have any around. I'll take warm blooded and furry rodent control specialists over scaly and slithery ones any day. Lots of fun when I had my horse in cross ties and one of those snakes drops down from the rafters right in front of him, or I'd go into the feed room to fix breakfast for everyone and find a pair of beady eyes just staring at me. Then we had these baby snakes infesting the office once. Bit one of the secretaries. We once had woodchucks living under the porch of the building I work in. The boss told me that I was not to shoot them to make woodchuck stew. Later a skunk moved in there. Most of us considered the skunk to be a valuable team member.

Alexander R Pruss said...

We just saw an opossum in our yard.

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

As for the skunk in the office. Sometimes you really need some one who can raise a stink at a meeting. :-)

As for opossums. They are carriers of Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). This is why those who own horses get rid of opossums ASAP. EPM infects the nervous system of horses and is either fatal or causes irreversible neurological damage. There is no vaccine. Some one I took riding lessons from many years ago lost her Morgan to EPM. I have a friend who almost lost her Thoroughbred to EPM but managed to save it with some $4,000 or so in anti-protozoal medication. The horse was never quite the same afterwards as damage had been done to his system. As soon as an opossum shows up in a barn, out comes the .22 to take care of it ASAP.

For further info on EPM:

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

Other wildlife:

At my parents house in Michigan when I was a teenager, we had squirrels living in the attic. I gave them the names Vernon and Gwen after the pilot and his stewardess (yes that's what we called flight attendants back then)girlfriend from the novel Airport by Arthur Hailey. Vernon and Gwen almost always had their spats over my room, and sometimes I'd see one of them all scratched up sitting on my window sill. I would often here them scampering about overhead.

We'd get rabbits in our back yard, and I've seen our Irish Setter, Kelly, chase one. At first they were evenly matched for speed, and it seemed like the dog would get the rabbit and my grandmother braced herself for the horrors to come. Just then the rabbit lit the after burners and went into supersonic flight. Kelly didn't have after burners (thank God, because that dog was crazy enough already) and soon was left far behind. On other rabbit chases in the back yard, the rabbit would make a tight turn and Kelly would attempt the same high speed tight turn. Only one problem, she had a much higher center of gravity and would flip over.

Several times we had robins nests in our trees. I remember the first time this happened. I don't know how old I was at the time, but my grandmother told me to be quiet and not go near the tree until after the young birds had left the nest. Years later, my tom cat, Lima, picked off a young robin who had tried to fly from his nest and didn't succeed in remaining airborne. The rest of the robin family dive bombed him like Stukas until he let it go. Lima was a consummate hunter (I learned a few things about hunting from him) and would clean the yard up of chipmunks, moles and such like. He once brought me the top prize - a baby rabbit.

Then our last dog, a lab, shepherd, chow mix, Chip, did the patrolling in our yard. My dad called him Sheriff Chip because he kept things in order out there.

Lima got killed by a car, Chip died of a brain tumor, and with no natural predators, the moles began to tear up the lawn.

On one occasion, a Mallard drake and his hen took a liking to our pool and my mom had me chase them off. I remember their angry quacking as they flew off.